The Intercept Offers Impassioned Defense of Ph.D. Student/Teacher Who Called Israel Supporters ‘Zionist Dirtbags’

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.


Kylie Broderick is a Ph.D. student within the University of North Carolina’s History Department and teaches a class to undergraduates named “The Conflict Over Israel/Palestine.”

However, if any students were hoping to take the course in order to receive a nuanced and balanced insight into one of the Middle East’s most complex issues, it is likely they were mistaken.

Because Broderick can only be described as an avowed anti-Zionist who has made no effort to hide her hatred of the Jewish state and its people.

Broderick, who has now deleted her Twitter account, used the social media platform to call defenders of Israel “Zionist dirtbags”; this, during May’s conflagration in which Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli civilian-populated towns and cities.

In other remarks, she described Zionism as an “oppressive ideology” that is supported by its “patron, the US imperialist death cult,” and retweeted a comment that labeled all of Israel “occupied Palestinian territory.” 

Despite this, American non-profit news organization, The Intercept, still ran an impassioned defense of Broderick that suggested she was the victim of a smear campaign by “right-wing pro-Israel websites and an advocacy group.”

The article, published on September 28, quotes Broderick at length, including her claims that those who are critical of her employment have never seen “past evaluations which have said that [she treats] students fairly, and thus [they] have no right to dictate what [she says] inside the classroom.”

Now, this could be true. Broderick may indeed be open-minded when it comes to diversity of thought and freedom of speech does allow her to express her opinions on thorny issues without fear of censure. 

But the mere fact she was invited in the first place to teach a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when she clearly holds such extreme views on the subject is troublesome, to say the least. Also concerning is that UNC faculty heads did not find someone less partisan to teach this class, even after her online posts were drawn to their attention and given the university’s chancellor recently stated that, “At Carolina, we unequivocally reject and deplore antisemitism. It has no place on our campus.”

The Intercept, while ostensibly criticizing the intervention of an Israeli diplomat who reportedly spoke to the dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences about the appropriateness of Broderick teaching, manages to carefully skirt around what the graduate student actually said.

The piece states: 

The controversy started over several tweets sent by Broderick that were highly critical of Israel and U.S. foreign policy, including support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel.”

There are two salient points that deserve to be noted here.

First, Broderick went much further than professing her support for the BDS campaign, which is, in any event, a deeply racist movement that seeks to entirely dismantle the Jewish state. She used highly inflammatory language to describe individuals who support the right of Jews to a homeland, describing them as “dirtbags.”

Second, she also suggested there are not two sides to any discussion of the subject she teaches because on one hand there are “colonizers/imperialists” while the other comprises “oppressed native peoples.”

Aside from the rather worrying fact that a Ph.D. student within the history department of a top university has such a tenuous grasp of the record of the land about which she teaches — namely, that the Jewish connection to Israel dates back thousands of years — Broderick’s claim that she would always treat students fairly rings somewhat hollow when taken within the context of her social media posts.

The Intercept, unfortunately, has provided a platform to those who defend Palestinian terrorism and spread anti-Israel libels.

For example, a 2019 podcast featured British-American journalist Mehdi Hasan interviewing Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in the aftermath of the latter receiving widespread condemnation for suggesting Republican support for Israel was the byproduct of donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – a comment that recycles antisemitic tropes about Jews buying political influence.

Ilhan Omar twitter

In the recording, Hasan accepted the remarks were anti-Jewish but stated he did not believe that it was intentional while claiming the backlash received by Omar – a “young black Muslim refugee immigrant woman” – was “ludicrously disproportionate.” 

While anti-Israel sentiment is no stranger on American college campuses (see in-depth HonestReporting investigations here and here), the University of North Carolina’s unequivocal support for a teacher who holds such disturbing views is alarming nonetheless.

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